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How to Create a Personal Brand for Your Job Search

Professional branding (also called personal branding) has become a popular self-marketing concept in job search and career management. It's a strategy to rise above teeming masses of competition for the best jobs.

In a nutshell, your professional brand is the core of how you are perceived in the job market and the workplace. Your brand reflects your professional reputation — what you're known for (or want to be known for). When your reputation soars, it includes distinctions like positive characteristics and genuine accomplishments.

Professional branding begins with self-searching to develop a branding statement.

Ingredients for a branding message

Keep it simple. Break the concept into five easy pieces to explain your brand in a branding statement:

  • Your specialty — who you are

  • Your service — what you do

  • Your audience — who you do it for

  • Your best characteristics — what you're known for

  • Your best accomplishments — what your track record proves

Link the pieces together, and you end up with something like this:

I'm a computer technology manager and biomedical engineer keeping the water-cleansing machines running smoothly from the desktop to the treatment room. Key trait: super diligence; result: zero costly equipment failures. Not for my health, for yours. — Chris Welch

As Alison Doyle, Job Search Guide for About.com, explains, "Your professional brand is what matters to a potential employer, networking contact, or anyone who can help you find a job or advance your career."

Where to place your message

You can use professional branding statements in many ways, including in the following dozen documents and verbal presentations:

  • Bio: A short, professional biography

  • Bio flyer: A high-impact bio that markets you with flair

  • Online profile: A document that's usually longer than a bio

  • Business card: A contact card that businesspeople use

  • Elevator speech: A spoken, succinct message

  • Cover letter: A transmittal letter attached to a resume

  • Networking letter: A message for personal relationships

  • Blog: A website opinion or editorial

  • Resume: A branding statement placed immediately below your name, contact data

  • Statement in job interview: A response to a request, such as "Tell me about yourself"

  • Social media networking: A statement placed on such sites as Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn

  • Interview leave-behinds: Fact sheets that remind interviewers why you're the best candidate for a job.

An extra benefit of writing a professional branding statement is that doing it so wonderfully focuses your mind on answering the questions "Who am I?" and "How well am I competing in this workplace?"

For more information on the use of job search branding, visit top authority Dan Schawbel's website, Personal Branding Blog.

What branding statements look like

Now that you have ideas about where to place branding statements, cast your eyes on the face of branding statements. The first 14 samples were created by Judith L. Gillespie of West Melbourne, Fla., a master of cut-to-the-chase branding statements. The samples that follow are the creations of other talented free-agent writers whose names appear beneath each of their works.

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A special thanks badge to Judith L. Gillespie of West Melbourne, Fla., for creating the 14 preceding fast-moving branding statements you just read. Be inspired!

See more branding statements

Jeff Bezos, the retailing titan who created Amazon.com, offers this one-liner to explain the nature of personal branding:

Your brand is what people say about you when you're not in the room.

How would you explain the nature and value of professional branding? Think about it as you read the following additional branding statements created by a variety of accomplished writers.

[Credit: Dan Dorotik, NCRW — Lubbock, Texas]
Credit: Dan Dorotik, NCRW — Lubbock, Texas

 

[Credit: Linda Tancs — Hillsborough, N.7.]
Credit: Linda Tancs — Hillsborough, N.7.

 

[Credit: Tamara Dowling, CPRW — Valencia, Calif.]
Credit: Tamara Dowling, CPRW — Valencia, Calif.

 

[Credit: Wendy Enelow, CCM, MRW, JCTC — Coleman Falls, Va.]
Credit: Wendy Enelow, CCM, MRW, JCTC — Coleman Falls, Va.

 

[Credit: Tamara Dowling, CPRW — Valencia, Calif.]
Credit: Tamara Dowling, CPRW — Valencia, Calif.

 

A popular request in job interviews is to describe who you are in six words. It does not have to be a sentence; it can be phrases or a string of words. The challenge is to make a six-word branding statement memorable and genuine.

This example shows the six words chosen by a massage therapist. He uses this as a headline on his resume, as a tagline under his name on his cover letter, and on his business card. Do it well, and the six-word wonder formula will set you apart from the competition.

[Credit: Laurie Berenson, CPRW, CEIC — Franklin Lakes, N.J.]
Credit: Laurie Berenson, CPRW, CEIC — Franklin Lakes, N.J.

 

[Credit: Barb Poole, CCMC, CLTMC, CMRW, PHR, CPRW — Maple Grove, Minn.]
Credit: Barb Poole, CCMC, CLTMC, CMRW, PHR, CPRW — Maple Grove, Minn.

 

[Credit: Kristen A. Jacoway, CRC, CPRW, CCC, CPBS — Auburn, Ala.]
Credit: Kristen A. Jacoway, CRC, CPRW, CCC, CPBS — Auburn, Ala.

 

[Credit: Tamara Dowling, CPRW — Valencia, Calif.]
Credit: Tamara Dowling, CPRW — Valencia, Calif.

 

[Credit: Stephanie Clark, CRS, CIS — Nanaimo, B.C., Canada]
Credit: Stephanie Clark, CRS, CIS — Nanaimo, B.C., Canada

 

[Credit: Melanie Noonan — Woodland Park, N.J.]
Credit: Melanie Noonan — Woodland Park, N.J.

 

[Credit: Tanya Sinclair, CHRP, MCRS — Pickering, Ontario, Canada]
Credit: Tanya Sinclair, CHRP, MCRS — Pickering, Ontario, Canada

 

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